Chinese man arrested after year-long robbery spree by masked underpants bandit

Hotel raider thought to have removed his clothes and hidden his face to avoid being recognised by surveillance cameras

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 2:56pm

A Chinese man has been arrested over a year-long crime spree in which a bandit robbed hotels wearing just his underwear and a mask.

Police in the eastern province of Zhejiang caught a man on Monday morning after he climbed into a second-floor room near Nanbei Lake – a scenic area outside the city of Jiaxing, local news portal reported.

Police had earlier linked a series of crimes targeting hotel guests, particularly at peak tourist times, to a criminal with exceptional climbing skills and the ability to avoid detection.

They expected him to strike again during the “golden week” that began on Sunday with China’s National Day.

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The thief was described as a skilful climber who always wore gloves, a cap and a mask to avoid being spotted and was thought to have removed his clothing – except for his underpants – to make it harder to identify him.

He usually targeted high-end hotels built in mountainous areas that were only accessible by narrow pathways and was thought to have last struck in August this year.

Officers who had been monitoring the thief’s patterns of behaviour and footage from surveillance cameras were lying in wait nearby when they spotted a man approaching a hotel about 1.30am on Monday.

They arrested a man at 3am after cash had been taken from one of the rooms in the hotel.

The first known case happened last May where a hotel guest reported that more than 13,000 yuan (US$1,950) had gone missing from his room.

Surveillance camera footage showed that the thief in that case had been masked and wearing only underpants and a hat.

It was not known where he stored the stolen money as he made his escape.

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The same man was believed to have carried out other hotel robberies in the area and was thought to have stolen at least 20,000 yuan.

A native of Guizhou province, identified only by his surname Zhou, has been detained in connection with the crimes.

The middle-aged suspect was reported to have confessed to carrying out previous burglaries, telling police he realised he did not have much time left because he was suffering from a kidney condition and had debts of 380,000 yuan after a contractor failed to pay him.

The man has yet to appear in court and police investigations into the case continue.